February 13, 2019
A mom blogger from Florida named Sonni Abatta is making national headlines after taking to Facebook on Sunday, February 10 to share a photo of a lunchbox she spied at Nordstrom Rack. The pink fabric tote was emblazoned with the words "Cheat Day" spelled out in gold sequins.
"See this? This is a picture I snapped today of a little girl's lunchbox that I saw for sale at a popular department store," Abatta noted alongside the image. "Why do I say it's marketed toward little girls? It's pink, it has sequins and it was surrounded by other girls' merchandise. So, safe to say that it's aimed at our daughters. I am SICKENED that this phrase is on a lunch box."
She went on to share that there's so much confusion and head-scratching "when we see our little girls struggle with body image, with self worth, with confidence. We wonder, 'Why do our girls worry so much about their bodies so young?' ... 'Why does my five year old call herself 'fat?'' ... 'Why does my middle schooler stand in front of the mirror and find all her flaws?' THIS. This is part of the reason why."
Abatta observed, "Our world is telling our girls that it's 'cheating' if they eat something that's not 100% fat-free and perfectly healthy. In turn, that tells them that self-control and denying herself is to be valued above all. And that if she dares to step outside of the foods that will keep her perfectly slim and trim, then she is by default 'cheating' and needs to feel some sense of remorse."
Preempting comments that may accuse her of overreacting, Abatta said, "We are not overreacting when we ask more of the world when it comes to how they treat our girls. Can you imagine a similar message directed toward little boys? For the record, I'd be equally offended... but I haven't seen anything that is aimed at making our boys feel bad about what they eat, or how they look."
She concluded that she will tell her girls: "You are not 'cheating' when you enjoy good food. You are not 'cheating' when you eat pizza. You are not 'cheating' when you have a cookie, or two, on occasion. You are not 'cheating' when you live in moderation and allow yourself things that make you happy."
Beyond that, she wants to emphasize to them that they are "MORE than your bodies. More than your faces. More than your complexions. More than the clothes you wear and the things you buys and the other girls you hang out with. You are beautiful, worthy, intelligent, and whole beings--whole beings who are worthy of so much love and respect, no matter what anyone, or anyTHING, says."
In an update, Abatta acknowledged that some commenters were observing that the lunchbox is part of a line that includes other adult-geared slogans like, "Where's the vodka?" Her reaction: So what? The design clearly appeals to little girls, and it's a toxic message for anyone. "Even if it was supposed to be marketed only toward women and the store just decided to place it with other items that seemed very 'young girl' in nature, still kinda sucks," she wrote. "So to all my grown-up 'girls,' you aren't cheating either when you enjoy life a little."
Most commenters agreed with the Florida mom's take. One shared her own personal experience from childhood, writing, "I was only 8 when my ballet teacher told us to bend to the right, grab the skin that was there, and that was how much weight we had to lose. So I FULLY understand how horrible it is to give that image to little girls. I have a daughter of my own and I never want her to feel some sort of way about her body image. Sooooo disgusting. We need to build up our daughters so the next generation is free if this horrible image. Good share! It's an eyeopener for sure."
Another shared just how real the issue is to her: "My 9-year-old step daughter weighs herself at her mom's all the time and wears a Fitbit and was constantly checking her steps because her mom told her she had to have so many in a day and she HAD to wear it to bed so her mom could track her sleep. We told her we wanted it nowhere near our house because it was unhealthy! I feed her well balanced meals and snacks while she is here. And SHE'S NINE!!!!"
One mom had observed a similarly disturbing incident: "We ran into a few of Alexis’ friends at Target the other day. One of them had a basket filled with junk food (candy, Little Debbies ... about $30 worth of the worst crap). She caught me looking at it and said, 'Oh, it’s my cheat day.' A seventh grader has planned cheat day. WTF."
A fourth commenter praised Abatta's post and concluded, “No one should feel like this with a lunchbox that has a message like this. Girls shouldn’t, boys shouldn’t, women shouldn’t and Men shouldn’t. The company should be held accountable for producing such a product that would want to send that message and the shop where they are been sold should take them off their shelves.”
Global statistics corroborate Abatta's concerns: In an American survey, 81% of 10-year-old girls had already dieted at least once. A Swedish study found that 25% of 7-year-old girls had dieted to lose weight and were already suffering from body-image distortion. Similar studies in Japan have found that 41% of elementary school girls—some as young as 6—thought they were too fat.
Good Morning America reported on Tuesday, February 12 that they reached out to Slant Collections, the company that designs the lunchbox, but did not receive a response. GMA also reached out to Nordstrom, who sells the lunchbox on Nordstrom Rack's website, but did not receive a response.